Saturday, 21 February 2015

What do You Really Think About Sober People?


 I gave little thought and even less attention to sober people, dismissing them as boring, uninteresting and incomprehensible. They could have been from a different planet and I felt grateful I was not burdened by their varied reasons for not drinking. I could drink whatever and whenever I wanted. And that’s exactly what I did.

Transiently, as I really enjoyed and needed my wine, I felt sorry for them. What was the point in a night out without booze? How many diet Cokes would you want to drink? ‘Normal’ drinks follow conventional rules and the law of diminishing returns: the first one is great and does all you hoped, but subsequent drinks, much less so. As your needs are met and their on-going appeal diminishes. Whatever their reasons for not drinking I thought it a shame these sober people were missing out, but accepted it was their own business and they could do as they pleased day to day.

At times I felt truly horrified at the thought of them not drinking at key events. Why would a bride decide not to drink on her wedding day? Why would a new mother not celebrate the birth of her baby with a glass of something fizzy? What about getting promoted? How could any true occasion be celebrated without alcohol to make these good times better? I shuddered to think.


As I was tried and failed to moderate, not yet ready to consider giving up totally myself, I watched sober people with a new sense of awe and admiration. Not only did they not drink alcohol, they appeared content with their ways and looked happy. 

As I gave up alcohol, sober people became aspirational to me. I was the new member of their club. I had huge respect for them and wanted what they had. I found myself commenting on the many positive aspects of sober behaviour, all of which they had known for years. It reminded me of getting my first smartphone three years after all my friends and marvelling at downloading music while reading a book: they smiled indulgently as I had ‘got it’ at last. 

After almost two years of sobriety I can understand why brides, mothers, and others choose not to blur great moments with alcohol, or prevent memories being made. They need not be transported to some mythical, magical plane, preferring instead to remain grounded in their lives, fully present at these moments, to experience them entirely. 

First impressions are important, but are not always correct.

Friday, 13 February 2015

A Disappointing Lover

   ‘Come on,’ you called ‘let’s spend the evening together. We’ll have fun!’.
   I was torn. Undecided. I had planned a trip to the cinema with a friend tonight. I had you all to myself the last three nights, but still, I was tempted. It was becoming routine, more serious now but always a very attractive proposition.
   I enjoyed being with you and you’re right; it is fun. You make me feel special, beautiful and tell me I am charming and clever. I enjoy being a little wild and carefree with you. We are extravagant; money is no object. I can forget all my troubles and I’m freed from mundane responsibilities in daily life. My other commitments lose their importance in comparison to spending more time with you.
   We have spent several nights together, until the small hours of the morning anyway. I’ve noticed you never stay the whole night. When I wake up at 3am, you have gone. Sometimes I am glad about this because my sparkle has subsided and I am tired, restless and can feel a headache developing. Sometimes I need you though. Times when I am sick or feeling anxious but you don’t care about the bad times. You do not care about my health or wealth. You are a fickle, fair-weather friend.
   In the morning I pop pills and cram carbs and vow not to see you again. I will ignore your calls and will not be led astray. You are not good for me; my nan would have called you a ‘bad ‘un’ and I agree. We’re finished.
   By lunchtime I wonder if I’ve over-reacted and been too hard on you. We each have our faults and you are no different. Besides, I love you. I want you.
   In the middle of the afternoon I decide I will answer when you call. And you will call.  You call each day around five o’clock. Sometimes earlier, occasionally later but you always come back.
   I agree to see you again tonight despite my better judgement. Deep down I know you are no good but I am drawn to you regardless. I cannot say ‘No’.
   I call my friend and plead off the cinema trip, claiming a headache. It’s not really a lie: I did have a headache today although it is almost gone now. I can hear the disappointment in her voice and feel bad that she had arranged a baby-sitter specially.  
   I do not dwell on my guilt. Instead I reach up for my favourite heavy crystal glass. Next, I go to the fridge and open the door. There you are, reliable as ever, waiting for me to take you out so we can spend time together. 
   I unscrew your top and listen to the satisfying glug you make as you fill my glass with amber nectar. I sit back and relax, waiting for you to bring the feel good factor back to me once again.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Superb Sober Support

I've been moved and surprised by the number of readers who have taken the time to contact and support me after my last post. There is indeed great support from the sober community just waiting in the wings: all you have to do is ask. 
Thank you so much for all the kind words and wise thoughts, many from those who are living quietly sober for many years. I appreciate all your sentiments. 
I got through the Saturday night and the Sunday night intact. I didn't plan to drink, I was more upset that such a strong feeling could conjure itself up from almost nothing and still influence me after all I've learned and said and do, in fact, believe. 

How could I still think a glass of wine might be a 'nice' thing to have? 

I also felt a bit of a fraud after so many people have said how helpful, inspirational even, they have found this blog to be for their own recovery. I hope none feel let down. I'm not infallible. I'm merely human too, and it wouldn't be true to hide the hard times and only display the good ones. Here, you get the whole package. 

I thought I'd harness your support some more: I've been contacted by a reader, female, 40ish, in the early stages of sobriety who is looking for a penpal more advanced in sobriety who can exchange emails or texts on a frequent, almost daily basis if possible, to give her some additional personalised support. If you think you could pay it forward in this way and would like to help someone navigate the early days and benefit from your experience, drop me an email and I'll put you in touch. 


Til next time comrades. Over and out. X

Saturday, 7 February 2015

The Tide is Trying to Turn

I feel as if all of a sudden I'm swimming against the tide: struggling to stay afloat. 

I've retreated to my blog ( via my phone and GPRS!) in an attempt to remind myself of all things sober. 

We've come away for half term weekend. I'm away from the internet and all my connections with my sober bloggy pals ( as I call them). I'm away from the motivating messages popping up on twitter and Facebook and away from hearing others' stories of success or difficulty. And this was all fine until a couple of hours ago.

While waiting for my family, I flicked through a magazine in a shop, as you do, with no intention to buy it. I caught a headline about Zoe Ball ( a well known DJ and television presenter) and the Strictly tour. Apparently, after the show each night a fair bit of boozing goes on and these late nights were why Zoe looked so tired. 
I was puzzled, remembering that Zoe, once a wild partying ladette, had given up alcohol etc to live a clean life as had her husband Norman AKA FatBoySlim ( another famous DJ, not sure if he's known across the Atlantic though?)

I read on...

I paraphrase a quote from Zoe that she was tee total for 4 1/2 years to fully support her husband giving up alcohol but is now off the wagon again and enjoying a drink on a night out every month or so. Still she regrets drinking the next day and that feeling reminds her of her precious hangovers and confirms her resolve that it must be allowed to get out of hand. 

I continued to think about this all the at back. Has she done it? Gone back to drinking and been able to moderate? Or is it just a matter of time before she slips down the same slope? Either way, it made me really, really, want a glass of wine tonight. 

And it didn't go away. At the house I prepared dinner which was a very simple in-the-oven-and-wait effort. I sat for the 30 minute wait, thinking this is the perfect time to have a glass of wine. Despite my lite ginger ale, my discontent and misery face was back. I felt deprived. 

Now, after dinner, I still feel deprived. I know tonight will pass as I sit with my discomfiture but I'm wondering how many nights like this I'll spend just waiting for the time to pass. Waiting for the feeling of wanting to go away so I can get back to embracing the joyful world of sobriety and having the feelings of hope and reassurance return instead. I want sober to be better. I want to believe it. 

I won't drink tonight but I'm surprised, approaching my 2 year soberversary, that I suddenly find myself in such a state of woe from such slight triggers. Just goes to show sobriety cannot be taken for granted and no matter how confident we are, we cannot say with certainty that we've got it licked. 

Zoe Ball never made a publicity event out of going sober. It just became the way she now lived. I'm going to follow what happens with great interest, and perhaps a little envy. 

I hope you are all feeling a little cheerier than me this Saturday night. Til next time. X

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Your Vote Counts

Not a party political post but a reminder that my book 'Sober is the New Black' was shortlisted in its category of Biography and memoir, for the Bookbzz Prize Writer Competition and VOTING IS NOW OPEN.
You only have one vote so make sure that after clicking the link below to the voting page, you scroll down to find me. I'm 7th on the list. 

Click this link to vote

Many thanks. 

P.s. If you are able to spread the word around your social circle to canvass more votes I'd be very grateful. 

Follow @SoberRachel